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Richard Salit, an environment and health reporter at The Providence Journal, was recently named co-director of the Metcalf Institute for Marine and Environmental Reporting. In this role, he will provide guidance on institute programs and share his professional experience with journalists who are new to environmental reporting. He holds a B.A. degree in English with a concentration in journalism and creative writing from the State University of New York at Binghamton.
PBN: When did you first start covering environmental topics?
SALIT: I actually wrote my first environment stories – about asbestos in school buildings – for my high school newspaper! At The Gloucester Daily Times in Massachusetts, my first reporting job, I covered the struggling fishing industry. I like the subject because it’s one that most everyone can relate to – it’s about the air we breathe, the water we drink and the land and oceans that sustain us.
PBN: Can you tell us a little bit about the Metcalf Institute’s mission?
SALIT: Metcalf is all about encouraging journalists to find important environment stories to tell and training them to employ science in their reporting. Long-term stories about climate change, rising sea levels, pollution and degradation of natural ecosystems can be overlooked by news staffs caught in the daily grind of covering crime and politics. Once a reporter tackles one of these subjects, Metcalf wants to be sure they do more than a he-said/she-said type of report.
PBN: What aspect of your new role are you most excited about?
SALIT: I am honored to be named to the position Peter Lord held until his recent death. Peter, an esteemed environment reporter and colleague at The Providence Journal, helped launch Metcalf’s multiday immersion workshop for journalists. By taking on his beat at the Journal and filling the void he left at Metcalf, I am trying to continue his legacy of devotion to high-quality environmental journalism. I’m most excited about the Peter B. Lord Seminars on the Environment, a series of six-day-long workshops for Rhode Island journalists that will begin in October and focus on environmental issues affecting our region. •